back to article ASCII @dventure game NetHack gets first upgrade in ten years

NetHack is one of the gaming industry's foundational texts. The animated adventure debuted in 1987, continuing an ASCII ancestry traceable to 1980's Rogue and earning it a place on the Museum Of Modern Art's list of games worthy of historical preservation. The game is simple: after choosing a race, gender and character class …

  1. msknight

    "I could murder a good curry." - Hope that's in there.

    1. Richard Taylor 2




      Death never murdered anyone :-)

  2. MacroRodent

    Past obsession

    Some 25 years ago I spent many, many nights with Nethack... never did find the amulet, though. But at some point I suddenly got enough, and have not played it, or any other computer game for that matter (OK, a bit of Wii games with the kid, but curiously did not find that any fun at all).

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Past obsession

      I used to play things like that a lot. Then I got into programming. Finding the Amulet of Zendor is nothing on the feeling of getting things to compile.

    2. -v(o.o)v-

      Re: Past obsession

      You ascend to a status of demi-god.

  3. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Ascended once

    Played it a few years ago via the nice: telnet

    Did some 100 games and managed to finish it once. It's fun and enjoyable, and seeing all the fails as they happen either by spectating it or just following the bot posting all the embarrasements to all to see ;)

  4. Sandtitz Silver badge


    Not that I'm bored with Nethack (I've been playing since 80s) but I was kinda hoping for new characters, quests, dungeon features etc. after the hiatus. 12 years in the making and all we get are bugfixes and cosmetic changes. I've been periodically checking their website for any updates for a long, long time.

    OK, that sounds ungrateful and I'm not, but since the Monk character is the only one I've yet to ascend I was looking for more...challenges.

    1. pyite

      Re: Sweet!

      You are ready for slashem. There is a public ssh server where you can try it out:


      It is just what you're looking for: NetHack with some fresh content.

  5. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

    To be fair, even if Nethack hasn't materially changed in the last few years, there are many other roguelikes - both extremely similar to Nethack, and more polished modern commercial games.

    I suspect now the devteam have sorted various admin issues, new features will be released.

    I've only ascended once, and I save scummed, so it doesn't count.. Generally I prefer to play either as a Gnomish wizard, or an archaeologist (I like tunneling).

    I'd recommend checking out DoomRL if anyone hasn't already, it's very silly and a lot of fun.

    1. lurker

      It would be nice to see updates to nethack, I can understand that they are conservative in not wanting to radically change the game 'design', but it would be great to see it given a UI overhaul similar to that recently applied to ADOM (now available on steam!), i.e an 'official' NotEye release.

      I know ASCII purists will scream at the thought, but there's a lot of depth in nethack and it's a shame that no kid in their right mind today would give it a second glance.

    2. Anonymous South African Coward

      Taking a shufty at DoomRL as we speak...

      I don't have eyes for the new glitzy games, for me it is 48k speccy games or a spot of Doom 1.3 (shareware version)... more than that I don't need.

      And a spot of Wii games with the kids when we make some time for that as well.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Great excuse if you need it...

    No, I'm not playing Nethack; I'm making myself familiar with the vi movement keys ;)

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Great excuse if you need it...

      It's a game that doesn't look like a game to management. It's just the routine gibberish we have on our screens all the time...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great excuse if you need it...

        "It's a game that doesn't look like a game to management. It's just the routine gibberish we have on our screens all the time..."

        You get used to it, though. Your brain does the translating. I don't even see the ASCII. All I see is dwarf, sword, mountain. Hey uh, you want a drink?

  7. Crisp

    Nethack got me started on roguelike games. Angband made me love them.

    And then Hengband. Which is absolutely awesome for killing half an hour while TFS decides if my code will build or not.

  8. 8Ace

    loved Rogue/Nethack

    Though one thing led to another, next it was Eye of the Beholder, then the full Baldur's Gate (still on for around 6 quid).

    1. Alien8n

      Re: loved Rogue/Nethack

      If you keep your eyes open for the sales they often do every D&D game (Baldur's Gate I & II, Neverwinter I & II, etc) for about 20 quid. Think it's about 9 games in total?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been playing for thirty years on and off (mainly off) and still never completed it.

    Might just fire it up again for the hell of it and to see what they've done with TP's words.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NetHack is too primitive-looking these days...

    ...and gamers will have been spoiled by the slick graphics of competitors like Dwarf Fortress.

    1. pyite

      Re: NetHack is too primitive-looking these days...

      People say the same thing about Minecraft too and yet its market penetration is like 100%.

      There is a lot more to it than the default graphics let on.

  11. SKC

    Nethack. Mines of Moria. Dwarf Fortress.

    Who needs more than that from ASCII?

    Please can we somehow ensure Nethack never gets some weird Emoji version?

    1. Old Handle

      You know Nethack has supported "weird Emoji" (tiles) for about 19 years, right?

    2. P. Lee



      Last time I played that was on a 286 with an IBM-text-only type display. I killed the Balrog.

      I think with today's larger screens the tile approach is a valid one. We've become used to having easier to distinguish elements on the screen.

      DF was all a bit too complicated for me.

  12. Yugguy

    There's an Android port.


  13. laurence brothers


    Note that the Izchak @ on that screen memorializes the late Izchak Miller who apart from working on NetHack also helped me debug my equally ancient roguelike omega.

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      Re: Izchak

      'You have died. Corrupted by chaos'. Nice game, but tricky to get started in due to the difficulty and bugs.

      Is it ok these days? The last time I played it, it was on OS/2..

  14. pyite

    I was just playing Nethack 4 and slashem yesterday

    These are the best games ever. I hadn't played in a couple years so I started playing again a couple weeks ago.

    There is a Nethack 4 with more interesting terminal support, give it a try:

    I like Slashem more than Nethack these days, but unfortunately it is 100x harder to ascend.

  15. Old Handle

    Weird Coincidence

    Just yesterday, I happened to check for the first time in probably a year or so. I was intrigued to see there had been two announcements this year, hinting the development was still ongoing. And the next day, BAM I see this.

    Anyway, I don't know if I'll really get into Nethack again, it didn't look like there have been major changes in the quick game I just played (killed by a boulder) but the interface improvements look nice. It appears the popular Status Colors and Menu Colors patches ave been rolled in for instance.

  16. JimC

    Somewhat amused/bemused

    To see that they have the new version in 32bit Windows only at the moment... Usually I use my old Win98 box for playing text games!

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      Re: Somewhat amused/bemused

      Try it and see if it works; the source was originally designed to work under anything from '95 upwards. Course, they may be targeting a development platform that no longer supports '9x because it's so old.

      The text support in NT is much better than 9x, so it's better to use that.

      Alternatively, it may be better to use one of the DOS extenders that supports Win32 APIs including the console, than bother using 9x..

  17. Anonymous Coward

    System requirements

    Is my Asus R7265 3GB gfx card powerful enough to run the new version??

  18. More Jam

    The source code is full of workarounds for problems with ancient versions of Unix. A lot of that could probably be removed now.

    "You are in a maze of twisty little #ifdefs, all alike"

  19. Daggerchild Silver badge


    The slightly perverse thing is that, multiple times while playing the latest greatest GPU melting games, I've fervently wished that I could just replace some of the motion captured high polygon textured anti-aliased objects (in their latest fetching shade of Realism Brown), with a minimal blip signifying all of their inherent meaningful data (i.e usually almost none). I pine for Mechwarrior's tactical wireframe display mode.

    The lump of grey jelly in my skull has to use dedicated hardware to filter out all that expensive noise to do just that, and in the days they cut out this middleware you could hit the player with massive amounts of pure metadata and make a really satisfying game cheaply. Yum.

    Never played much nethack (nettrek tho..). My wizards kitten went splat at the bottom of a pit-trap, after obediently following its master, and my dwarf starved to death by spending too much time mining for gems :-)

  20. jake Silver badge

    Nethack's all very well and good ...

    My nieces & nephews prefer trying to confuse each other with their own variations of Wumpus ;-)

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